Setting the Table

If you know us well, you know that one of our most treasured possessions is our table. It is nothing fancy, but it is huge and it is ours. We bought it deeply discounted at a Pottery Barn Outlet because of dings and dents. Over the years we have added countless other scratches and marks of ownership that even the Magic Eraser, that mysterious wonder of cleaning products, cannot heal.

We don’t have fine china; in fact, we don’t have any china. We rock Ikea plates and strange silverware that we thought looked cool twelve years ago when we chose our wedding registry (clearly our tastes have changed).  Our glasses are a hodgepodge of pieces that haven’t broken over the years. All that to say, when our table is set, it is nothing to write home about.

Yet, there is something about setting the table that speaks of love and wreaks of anticipation. A set table, even if boasts only paper napkins and chipped plates, invites and summons, for the purpose of a meal is twofold: nourishment and intimacy.

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Nourishment. We need to be fed often and daily. It is a matter of life and death, literally. Frills or no frills, we need to eat.  Yet, a meal is not simply about choking food down, but enjoying the presence and company of those we most love. Intimacy.

As I am in the process of preparing a 4-week course for the women at our Church, Studying the Bible with Your Heart & Mind, I cannot shake the image of a beautifully set table.

Even though we don’t own fine linens and I have never measured a single thing set on our table, I have found my heart longing to go to great lengths to set the table for the feast of God’s Word. Setting women before the rich Word of our Living God feels weighty, and as such, I want to be certain that every cup matches and every place setting sparkles. I have felt an immense and fitting pressure to proverbially find the best linens and most beautiful candles that should accompany such a Divine feast. But somewhere, in the process of preparing, I think I have begun to lose sight of the twofold purpose of the class in the first place: to set people before the food of Jesus (the Word of God) and the face of Jesus.

From the image of a beautifully set table, measured and crumb-swept Downton Abbey style, my mind jumps to Jesus. I imagine Jesus, with anticipation and care, setting innumerable tables for two, some fancy, some casual, some picnic blankets in parks, some to-go meals for the commute to work, eager to both feed His beloved children and to sit in intimacy with each of them.

He sets the Table. His Cross turned sideways has become the Table. He is the food. He is the host.

We live in the Already/Not Yet. Intimacy with Jesus has been opened by way of the Cross; yet we are not fully free from sin and able to sit face-to-face with our Beloved.  The Cross turned sideways has become a table, an access point of nourishment and intimacy with the Lord until the day when we sit down at the wedding supper of the Lamb, seeing our Christ face-to-face.

The table has been set, the food is rich, the company unparalleled. May we become people who come to the tables He sets daily, no matter the state in which we find ourselves. May we feed on His food and enjoy glimpses of His face until the day when we will feast with Him face-to-face for endless days.

 

The Goat Gatherer

Every year, around Easter I get to thinking about the Day of Atonement described in detail in Leviticus 16. The reasons are manifold and obvious as believers are meant to make the rich connections between the elaborate act made by the High Priest to atone annually for the sins of God’s people and the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, the full and final atonement, the one to which all the others had been pointing all along.

Aaron (and then the appointed High Priest who would replace him in succession) was to dress in linen, tie a linen sash around his waist, cover his head and go through elaborate cleaning rituals in preparation to enter into the Holy of Holies, the place where God’s shekinah glory dwelt.  A series of animals were involved in the Day of Atonement, but my mind has been dwelling on the scapegoat of late.

Two goats were selected, but were meant to show two sides of one sacrifice. Lots were drawn to see which goat would be a sacrifice and which would be the scapegoat. The first goat was to be slain to expiate (do penance, redress, offset) for the sins of the people.  The second goat was to live and be sent away to the wilderness to show the full removal of the sins from the people.

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“Aaron shall lay both hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their trangressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who sits in readiness. The goat shall bear all the iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness” (Leviticus 16: 21-22).

Poor goat, right? Notice the word all repeated in the above verses. All the transgressions, all the iniquities, all their sins. Just mine from one day of Spring Break parenting could crush a poor goat. Yet, this little guy was to bear it all and carry it far away from the people.

The Hebrew word describing “a man who sits in readiness” is used only here in the entirety of Scriptures. Some have translated it as a wise man or a man who is familiar with the wilderness. While they are surely brighter than me, I wonder if the man of readiness might not also point to our Jesus.

The fit man, the man of the hour, the man at the ready to carry our sins as far from us as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, ready in the wings to step onto the human stage via the miraculous condescension of the Incarnation. Jesus, the One who would fulfill all that happened on the Day of Atonement once and for all. He would be priest and sacrifice and scapegoat.

In my heart and mind this week, I have been imagining Jesus as the one who led the scapegoats away every year, but with a twist. After He has led them far away from the people, He lays his own two scarred hands on their heads and takes the sins cast upon them onto Himself.

While this is conjecture and poetic imagery, I do think that the images line up with the character of God as seen most clearly on the Cross.

The Goat Gatherer

All those centuries of scapegoats,
Heavy laden with our weight,
For laid upon their heads was
The collection of our hate.

Cast out as the substitute,
Year by year on Atonement day,
One lucky yet unlucky goat
To the wilderness was sent away.

A fit and timely chosen man
Led out the poor scapegoat,
God hates sin, loves sinners,
So sin must be remote.

Yet the goats were loved by the
One to whom they pointed,
For on His head one day,
All sins would be appointed.

Gently touching the goats,
He took all the weight on Him,
He gathered all the scapegoats
Receiving their burdens grim.

At the tender, scarred touch,
The goats in gladness leapt.
For He the True Scapegoat
Even other scapegoats kept.

 

 

________ Friday

We refer to this frightful Friday as Good Friday.

Good. When I hear good, I think fine, decent, nondescript.

As in the generic, catch-all answer I receive from my boys in response to my motherly after-school questions: How was your day? How did your test go? How was chapel?

The etymology of the word good shows that it used to connote something fit or adequate, having the right or desirable quality.

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This morning, I spent a few stolen moments thinking through the list of other adjectives that come to mind as a descriptor of this dark Friday.

__________ Friday?

Frightful Friday,
When the One rightful son,
Before an onlooking crowd,
The curse did become?

Unnatural Friday,
When the light of life
Darkened noonday sun
With un-eclipsed strife?

Diseased Friday,
When the Great Physician
Willfully contracted
Our terminal condition?

Execution Friday,
When the Man Divine
Donned death’s shroud
For humanity’s crime?

Foretold Friday,
When He who wound time
Was bound to a cross
In a death sublime?

Good Friday, 
Yes, that covers it all.
Jesus cleared Our Way
Home from the Fall.

Nothing about what happened on that Friday we commemorate today feels right. Yet, it was the only way for the Father to bring back His wayward children, long exiled from home. The Father foretold this Friday, the Son came for this Friday and we are God’s children and Jesus’ siblings on account of this Friday.

Fitting. Having right or desirable quality. Good.

Good Friday, indeed.

 

 

I Thirst

Jesus uttered seven phrases from the Cross. “I thirst” is unique to John’s gospel. As I studied this phrase in the context of John’s particular gospel account, it came alive. John’s gospel was written with a clear two-pronged thesis: to show that Jesus Christ was God and to offer the readers eternal life through Him. As such, John’s gospel doesn’t begin with a birth account, but places Jesus as co-eternal with the Father “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1).” Likewise, the powerful “I am” statements are found in the book of John, further proclamations of His Deity.

Jesus often associates Himself with springs of living water throughout John’s gospel, beginning with semi-cryptic conversations with Nicodemus by night and the Samaritan women by day. On the last day of the feast of booths, Jesus declares publicly, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’.” John 7:37-38. 

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With that backdrop in mind, Jesus cry of “I thirst” from the Cross takes on profound meaning. The One who literally had rivers of eternal life gushing and rushing through Him from eternity past became drought and depression and death. He did this unthinkable act to offer to His parched, petulant people rivers of life they had willingly left for broken cisterns.

As Lent wraps up and we approach the Cross of Christ, may we know what it cost Him that we should drink freely from the fountain. May we drink deeply the free love of God through Christ, and as such, may we offer cups of water to a parched world.

I Thirst

Lips that spoke oceans vast,
Cracked, clamoring for a drip.
The fountain of living water,
Desperate for a single sip. 

The mouth that freely offered
An eternally flowing spring,
Being offered sarcastically 
Malt vinegar to cut the sting. 

More thirsty was He to honor
The Father by bringing us home,
Than to have His pain assuaged 
Leaving us in our sin to roam. 

His soul and body’s thirsting
Opened the heavenly stream;
His nightmare on that Cross
Secured for us Abba’s dream.

May we now pant for You,
As deer for fresh waters.
Make us fit to live on earth
As your sons and daughters.

A Chronicle of Grief

Being a mother has completely transformed the way I experience Easter. It has very little to do with hiding the eggs and everything to do with imagining Holy Week through Mary’s mind and heart. When my kids stub their toes, I cringe. The relatively few times we have had to take trips to the ER (especially considering I am raising three rowdy fellas), I was completely undone watching my children in pain.

This series of poems chronicles the three days from the perspective of Mary, the grief-stricken mother of Christ.

A Chronicle of Grief

Friday
The aroma of anointing oils,
Scents of frankincense and myrrh,
Linen wrapping and a dark cave;
Buried memories begin to stir.

I remember holding him tightly,
Two sets of tear-filled eyes locked.
All was well with the world,
As I my newborn child rocked.

Here and there arrows of fear
Pierced the placid scene,
A Jealous ruler, exile to Egypt,
Prophecies. What does it mean?

Thoughts long stored in my heart,
Reemerge as tears my eyes fill.
Deep down, I knew pain was coming;
But death on a criminal’s hill?

Crazed by love and drunk with pain,
I nearly climbed that shameful tree.
His tear-filled eyes locked with mine,
Saying silently, “Momma, you must let it be.”

As I hold his body, swaddled again,
I rock him with the sways of grief.
My baby, My Son, My treasured One,
Without you, there can be no relief.

Saturday
For a moment, a split-second
In between waking and sleep,
I thought it just a nightmare;
Then realty fell in a heap.

Eyes swollen shut from crying,
Mind splitting in throbs of grief,
Muscles aching, heart breaking;
Even sleep offers me no relief.

Trapped by Sabbath laws,
A grief with nowhere to run.
So livid I could shatter stone,
To simply see my little one.

I want to be near you, my baby,
To lay beside you in that cave.
I cannot face life without you;
How did you beat me to the grave?

Sunday
“Let me be,” I mumbled from bed,
“No visitors today,” I said in sigh.
Yet, John still bounded in,
A glimmer of hope in his eye.

Out of breath from running,
In heaves of adrenaline he spoke,
“Mary -at cave. Stone -rolled away; 
Not there; Somehow he awoke.”

Fragments of news reached my soul,
As I processed what he’d said.
“Could it be, could it be true?
My son, awake from the dead?”

An angel had announced his birth,
He was conceived in a miraculous way.
Yes, Yes, It does make sense.
My son! Alive! What a glorious day!

Leaping with life, I ran to the door
With joyful John at my heels.
Though far too frail to be running,
Joy like strong drink in me reels.

We must, we must find him.
I must hold the son of my womb!
Drunk with joy and crazed with love
I rush to His empty tomb.

I am so thankful that God enabled a very human Mary to endure the unendurable so that we would never have to. Yet far beyond that, I am eternally grateful to the Christ who through His life, death and resurrection has secured a lasting hope for the wayward children of God.  May the Lamb receive the honor due His name this Easter week!

 

The Seder & The Savior

A few years ago, when my children were three and two years old, I had the brilliant idea of teaching them the deeper significance of the Passover. I studied the Seder meal, went shopping, printed coloring sheets. The whole shebang. My incredulous husband wondered if this was really age-appropriate, but I pressed on.

We sat down and strapped our children into their baby chairs, lit candles and began our walk through the Jewish traditions. It was a total disaster. They spit out the herbs, gagged on the horseradish and chugged the sparking grape juice. I have not yet regained the courage to attempt another Seder in the Joseph household.

Funny story aside,  today I imagined what it must have been like for Jesus to sit down with disciples for the Seder meal. I imagined the familiar scents and flavors which Jesus would have known from years of celebrating the Passover with His family, suddenly becoming ominous as He realized they all pointed to His punishment on the Cross as the second and eternal Exodus of both Jew and Gentile alike.

Thinking of the Savior eating the Seder meal that spelled out His certain death moved my soul to a deeper appreciation for his last Passover in that Upper Room.

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The Seder & The Savior

The Upper Room is ready,
The table carefully set,
The disciples eager to celebrate;
They don’t understand as yet.

The Seder plate stares up at me,
Invading all of my senses,
Sights and smells arrest me,
Alluding my human defenses.

The bitter herbs, they bite me.
Meant to point back to captivity,
Yet they press me to tomorrow
When I’ll be nailed to the tree.

The roasted meat, the Zeroa,
Features the bone of a lamb.
They think of sacrifices past,
Yet I know that I am the ram.

The Beitzah points to desire,
The cries of people to be saved.
The path to their deep desire
Through my death is paved.

Karpas, the parsley-reminder
Of slavery’s back-breaking load,
Smells of relief to them, but to me
Does the darkest day bode.

Charoset paste of apples and wine,
Reminds of the mortar and brick,
To release them from their burden,
I the way of the Cross must pick.

Looking up from the plate, my portion,
I see the familiar faces of my friends.
For them, these sin-sick brothers,
I will drink God’s wrath to the end.

Oh, Father, pass over your people,
Let the punishment fall on me.
Through my ultimate slavery,
Finally set your children free.

A Basketful of Failures

I love to give gifts; it really is a problem for our budget. When I think of the gifts that the Lord wants to receive from me, I think of fruitfulness and success, as if they would give him the most glory and joy.

But today, as I was spending time with Him, the Lord gave me an image of me presenting to Him, on that day when we meet face to face for the first time, a basketful of failures.

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Not because God glories in failure or hates fruitfulness and success, but because of what such a present would mean coming from someone who has wrestled for so many years with presenting successes, with performing excellently.

In his book Trusting God when Life Hurts, Jerry Bridges makes a profound statement that haunts me. “It is far easier to obey than to trust.”

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), the Master gets angry with the servant who buried his talent. His anger stems not so much from the act of burying as from the stubborn distrust the servant had in the character of the Master.

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground (Matthew 25:24-25).

His burying of the talent came from a lack of trust in the goodness of the Master, from a fear that the Master would punish failure.

Risking requires great amounts of trust.  Thankfully, we have more than a hunch that our God is indeed a Good Master. We have proof. For our Good Master allowed His precious son to be killed by the unfaithful stewards (see the Parable of the Vineyard, Matthew 21).

As someone who learned incredibly early to perform well, I tend to limit my life to things I can do and do well. While I am all for boundaries and margins, often times my small spheres come not from wisdom but from fear. Fear that I might fail, fear of how failure might be received, just like the unfaithful steward. I envy those naturally confident, even brazen servants who don’t have a hard time risking or investing or putting themselves out there.  I feel so much safer burying things or maintaining small circles that I feel I can control.

But love overcomes fear, and Christ’s love continuously calls me to stretch my circles as I seek to trust Him more and more.

As such, I can imagine that the gift that Christ would most happily and proudly receive from me on that beautiful day when we embrace is a basketful of bold failures. Not sinful failures, but failures that came from stepping out in faith, venturing out on His Word beyond the territory of my own gifts or abilities.

“The fear of falling on our faces exacts a heavy price. It discourages exploration and assures the progressive narrowing of the personality. There is no learning without fumbling. If we are to keep growing, we must risk failure all our lives.” Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus.

A basketful of failures would be evidence of a life lived in radical trust of My gentle and Redeeming Father. Thus, reluctantly, I will gently gather and collect what I, others or the world deem failures, as a precious gift birthed of a growing trust in the overwhelming Goodness of the Master.

I long for the day when I will get to present such a basket to the Master, but even more so, I long for the day when trust will come naturally to my finally set-free self!

Scarred, Sacred Head

Every year, as Easter fast approaches and catches me off guard, I attempt to reread George Herbert’s poem The Sacrifice. Every year a different stanza or two grab my heart strings and command my attention; this year was no exception. Two of the Biblical images Herbert so painfully, but poetically paints have seared my mind and heart this past week.

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They buffet me, and box me as they list, 
Who grab the earth and heaven with my fist,
And never yet, whom I would punish, miss’d; 
     Was ever grief like mine? (lines 130-134)

Then with the reed they gave to me before,
They strike my head, the rock from whence all store
Of heavenly blessings issue evermore:
    Was ever grief like mine? (lines 170-174).

His Hands, Our Hands
Two Scriptures comparing humanity to divinity come to mind when I think of hands. Two rhetorical questions, one from God’s interaction with Isaiah and another from His interaction with Job.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales?” Isaiah 40:12.

“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt to bring rain on a land where no man in, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?” Job 38:25-27.

Jesus used His metaphorical hands to measure out all the oceans in one span, the way we would use our thumb and index finger to determine the amount of miles between two places on an old-school map. He traced careening canyons with his little finger. Majesty. Yet, when Jesus took on flesh and wore skin, He allowed himself to be punched with the fists of His own creatures. The phalanges that He dreamed up and placed in the intricate hands of mankind were used to box His own precious face.

His Head, Our  Fountainhead

The forehead is landing pad for smooches in our house. I love to tussle my little guys’ heads of unruly hair and sneak a quick kiss onto their soft foreheads. As they get bigger, the landing pad only grows, but the resistance also grows!

When I think of the precious head and forehead of Jesus being scarred by the tears of terrible thorns rather than kissed, when I think of His head receiving blows rather than besos (kisses in Spanish for my non-San Diegan friends), my own forehead furrows and my heart sinks.  Mary most likely kissed that forehead and tussled that head as her son grew up. Little did she understand that his sacred head would one day be scarred.

In the stanza above from The Sacrifice, George Herbert is drawing a parallel from Exodus to the Crucifix. In Exodus, when God’s people are complaining in the wilderness wanderings, God tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff; when the rock is struck, water pours out, satisfying the thirst of the people.  Herbert pictures Christ’s head as being the struck rock from whom streams of living water would flow.

Christ’s precious head being struck by the bludgeons of angry soldiers that He might become the fountainhead from which springs of living water would flow to us who are as guilty as the striking soldiers.

His head became our Fountainhead. What manner of love is this?

As Easter approaches, may we linger long on the face and hands of Christ. As we do so, may we begin to become the face and hands of Christ to others who are as thirsty for life as were the Israelites in the desert.

 

Durable Delights

The fate of most small, plastic toys in this house is the same: first the junk drawer then the trash can. The life cycle tends to run about a week, although McDonald’s toys last about 10 minutes and Nerf bullets last about two weeks. Legos are the exception, of course. Long live the Lego!

Melissa and Doug (whomever they may be) realized that we all long for more durable delights and made a fortune creating old school wooden toys and puzzles that don’t end up in the junk drawer.

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As I have been reading Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, the contrast between junky plastic toys and solid wooden classics has been on the forefront of my brain. Strange connection between my two favorite worlds, the world of Puritan writings and momma-land, I know.

“Where one thousand are destroyed by the worlds frowns, ten thousand  are destroyed by the worlds smiles.”

One of the devices most employed by the Enemy which Brooks dwells upon in depth is the allurement of this world. Even though Brooks’ had no idea how consumerism and a culture of comfort would grow and develop, his words speak so aptly to our culture and to my own heart.

“You may as soon fill a bag with wisdom, a chest with virtue, or a circle with a triangle, as the heart of man with anything here below. A man may have enough of the world to sink him, but he can never have enough to satisfy him.”

When I see my children fixating on collecting precious toys that quickly lose their luster, these truths are so clear to me; however, I struggle to see the idiocy of my own attempts to collect comfort and treasures on this earth. A new home, a new rug, a better school, a getaway to an exciting place: these are the equivalent to plastic, junk drawer joys when compared to the solid, durable delights that I have in union with Christ.

“The treasures of the saint are the presence of God, the favor of God, union and communion with God, the pardon of sin, the joy of the spirit, the peace of conscience, which are jewels that none can give but Christ nor none can take away but Christ.”

I long to invest my time, energy and resources on earth storing up durable delights that will last even beyond the frames of this fragile life. Cultivating my own walk with God, encouraging and enabling my children’s relationships with the Lord and one another, praying for and befriending the sheep that are not yet of Jesus’ fold, but are meant to be (John 10), these are durable delights. Yet so often, these get pushed aside by the plastic distractions of this world, lost in the shuffle of temporary toys.

I spend so much time organizing, protecting and caring for the temporary toys, that I often neglect the durable delights that are less shiny and less loudly advertised. While the durable delights of union of with Christ are expensive, they have been fully purchased for us by the very same Christ. The wooden, lasting lovelies of Christ sit gathering dust in a bin while I frantically pander to the plastic.

“Oh, let your souls dwell upon the vanity of all things here below, til your hearts be so thoroughly convinced and persuaded of the vanity of them, as to trample upon them and make them a footstool for Christ to get up and ride in a holy triumph in your hearts.” 

I love the image that Brooks paints. I can see, in my mind’s eye, a pile of the plastic, temporary toys of this life, being climbed by Christ as He becomes rightful King on the throne of my heart and desires.

Christ is THE durable delight from which all pleasures flow. He is the center of our desires and all good gifts radiate out from Him (James 1:17). May He sit on the rightful throne, as we allow the lesser, temporary joys to be His footstool!

 

 

 

Advertising Adulthood

The way we talk about adulthood flows directly from how we think about adulthood, and both of these matter significantly, not only for ourselves but also for the generations that are following on our heels and being raised in our homes.

If newsfeeds and funny memes are any indication of the current cultural view of “adulting” (to borrow a popular phrase), we are being poor advertisers of adulthood.

Just today, while toting my littlest fella around with me on necessary errands that keep order in our lives, food in our pantries and stability in our home, I saw these journals speaking pejoratively about adulthood and its myriad responsibilities.

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Despite the fact that it was written in gold letters, the message is rusted and rotten. While it may mask itself as humor, underneath the “authenticity” lies an insidious complaint that adulthood is mere drudgery.

In Philippians, one of the rare letters in which Paul’s purpose was to praise and encourage an obedient Church rather than correct an erring Church, Paul warns against complaining.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16. 

In these verses, Paul has connected grumbling and disputing with blemishes. Yet, our culture (which seeps into the Church often imperceptibly) seems to be branding what God calls a blemish. Even though I am not gifted in the interior decor department, even I know that it would be a poor decision to decorate our homes with blemishes and eyesores. However, if we listen to the culture of complaint and get pulled into its currents and norms, we will be not only normalizing but also espousing a false view of adulthood.

I recognize that each generation swings the pendulum as far as possible from the errors of its preceding generation. As such, it should not surprise us that my generation touts authenticity as the highest good. After all, the generations before tended to smile and stuff, to present to the world a polished exterior and ignore or minimize the unsightly or uncomfortable realities of life. However, we ought to be careful, for we have so highly raised the flag of authenticity that complaining, under the guise of “keeping it real,” is being celebrated before and to our children.

As an adult, I do not want my children to be misinformed about adulthood and the necessary and right responsibilities which accompany it. It is not all sunshine and rainbows, vacations and trips to the salon. I do not want generations following us to have unrealistic expectations that adulthood is the height of all bliss and comfort; however, I fear that we are painting a bleak and unbiblical picture of adulthood for them.

Yes, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed, hours to log and carpools to drive. Yes, these can be challenging and draining at times. However, we will foster generations of Peter Pans who fear growing up if we do not invite our children into the joys and wonder of adulthood, as well as its challenges.

Lest you think I am pointing the finger out there, I want to invite you in here, into my own mistakes and home. Yesterday, I caught myself sighing loudly while on hold with the insurance company (my least favorite part of adulting includes the phone and any kind of elevator music played while on a 20-minute hold). My son was in the room and, in concern, asked what was wrong.

I caught myself about to complain, but remembered that I have a chance to teach my child the value of obedience, even in the most boring stuff. Thus, rather than say what my flesh wanted to say, I said, “It stinks to talk to insurance companies, but I am so glad that we have dental care. When I make this call, I allow us to stay with the dentist that we love and trust and not have to switch again.”

A small victory, to be sure, but a start.

I long for my children to look at all of life from a biblical worldview. I long them for them to be lights shining brightly in a dark world, as Paul longed for his Philippians friends. In order to do that, I have some work to do in my heart regarding the culture of complaining in which we live and which lives latent in all of us.  I have some work to do in teasing out the wonder and beauty that is often buried under the bed of chores and musts and oughts of adulthood in my own life.